American Airlines has announced that it is reducing legroom on economy-class seats to squeeze more passengers onto its new Boeing Max 737 jetliners.
“The seats we’ll use on the Max are designed to maximize personal living space, while allowing more comfort,” a company spokesperson told Skift, an industry intelligence platform.
American will reduce legroom by 2 inches on the new jets (as compared to current 737s) for all but three rows in economy. For those three rows, another inch will be eliminated, to 29 inches.
The 29-inch pitch moves the carrier closer to ultra-low cost competitors such as Spirit and Frontier airlines, where seat pitch is 28 or 29 inches, according to a report in the Dallas News. Pitch is the distance between a point on one seat to the same point on a seat in front or behind. Legroom also is affected by the thickness of seat cushions, and some airlines have been installing skinnier seats.
At Southwest, which operates an all-Boeing 737 fleet, seat pitch ranges from 31 to 33 inches. Delta and United have coach seats with pitch ranging from 30 to 32 inches.
American has 100 Max 737s on order from Boeing, and will begin introducing them on domestic flights later this year.
Something similar is planned for the more than 300 737s that the airline is currently flying, the spokesperson told Skift.
The 29-inch pitch found on a portion of American’s new seats pushes the carrier closer to ultra-low cost competitors such as Spirit and Frontier airlines, where seat pitch is 28 or 29 inches.